Hit podcast subject Adnan Syed's case reopened
Adnan Syed, the convicted murderer whose case gained international attention after the smash hit podcast Serial raised questions about the evidence brought against him, will get a day in court.
A Baltimore Circuit Court judge on Friday granted Syed's request for a hearing at which he will present an alibi witness and raise questions about cellphone evidence in the case.
Retired Judge Martin Welch said the hearing would "be in the interests of justice."
A date has not been scheduled.
"This is obviously a huge step forward for Adnan," said his attorney C. Justin Brown. "We look forward to our day in court."
The Maryland Attorney General's Office, which has been opposing Syed's request, declined to comment.
Syed was convicted of murder in 2000 in the death of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, a Woodlawn High School classmate, and is serving a life sentence.
The case became the subject of Serial, a 12 episode podcast, and offshoot of the This American Life public radio program, hosted by Sarah Koenig that revisited the evidence and Syed's defense in the case.
It was downloaded millions of times, setting podcast download records and creating a groundswell of calls for a new trial.
Friday's decision puts that one step closer to happening.
Prosecutors had no physical evidence or eyewitness tying Syed to the killing, relying heavily on the testimony of Jay Wilds, an acquaintance who said he helped Syed bury the body in Baltimore's Leakin Park.
The prosecutor who handled the case said the testimony, along with phone records tying him to the area, created a strong case.
After Syed's arrest, Asia McClain, a Woodlawn classmate, wrote letters to him in jail in which she said she had seen him in a public library near school on the day prosecutors believe Syed killed Lee.
The Court of Special Appeals agreed in February to hear Syed's appeal of a lower court ruling that denied his request for a new trial.
The court said in May that McClain should be allowed to testify, so her statements could be considered in deliberations on whether Syed deserves a new trial.
The court called on the Baltimore Circuit Court to reopen Syed's post-conviction hearings so McClain's testimony could be taken.
But Syed had to formally request the court to do so, and the Attorney General's Office opposed the request.
Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah, who himself attended Woodlawn High School in the early 1990s, called it "meritless" and "inconsequential theater and not in the interest of justice."
In making his case for Syed, Brown also put forward for the first time a fax cover sheet from AT&T in which the phone company raised questions about the reliability of technology at the time to pinpoint the location of a phone.
Brown obtained an affidavit from the state's expert witness regarding phone technology, who said he would have wanted to know about the disclaimer on the fax cover sheet and it could have changed his testimony.
Welch found that both issues should be allowed to be argued to consider whether there was prosecutorial misconduct.
- Sydney Morning Herald